Biology by Democracy

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Gonna save all my money (turnin' it on, blowin' it out) and buy a GTO (turnin' it on, blowin' it out)

Get a helmet and a roll bar (turnin' it on, blowin' it out) and I'll be ready to go

(turnin' it on, blowin' it out)

Take it out to Pomona (turnin' it on, blowin' it out) and let 'em know (turnin' it on, blowin' it out), yeah, yeah

That I'm the coolest thing around

Little buddy, gonna shut you down

When I turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO

– Ronny & the Daytonas (Little GTO)

=/\=

Meridian, Mississippi, Summer Solstice, 1964.

Carmen and Crystal materialized near the outskirts of the town. "Damn, it's hot," Carmen complained.

"Before we head into town, can we kinda get a plan together?" Crystal asked. "I've never done this before."

"Yes, of course. The three – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and, apparently, Sheilagh's forebear, Mickey Schwerner – they start off here today. They are investigating the burning of the Mount Zion Methodist Church. These are all CORE workers, and the church was the site of a CORE Freedom School."

"What's CORE?"

"It's the Congress of Racial Equality," Carmen surreptitiously read off her PADD, "Anyway; the three of them are arrested for some sort of trumped-up traffic violation and are thrown into jail, in Neshoba County, about an hour from now, actually. They're let out, but they do not get their one telephone call. So no one knows what's really going on. They're driving back here, to Meridian, when they're stopped again, but this time they're stopped by the KKK. Schwerner is apparently shot first, then Goodman, and then Mister Chaney, but not until after they chain-whip and mutilate him."

"My God," Crystal shuddered, "if the Perfectionists wanted to force us to restore something truly awful, this one ranks right up there. It's hard for them to have found a better subject."

"Yes, well, they want us to feel as guilty as possible, you see. For a confederation of people who claim to be only concerning themselves with doing good, they certainly seem to take a great deal of pleasure in hurting a number of very good people."

"That seems to have been what happened to Dan," Crystal surmised. She did not know much about his work with Section 31, or that he had turned rogue and had thrown in his lot with the Perfectionists. She only knew that he had committed suicide, and had seemed to be overwhelmed by all of the grief that they had had to restore.

"Perhaps," Carmen allowed, "but also, to an extent – Boris – although he had his own jacked-up paranoia fueling things. It might even explain a bit of what happened with that agent they killed, Anthony Parker. I imagine the guilt tie-in is not necessarily supported by every member of their movement. Hell, I suspect many of them have no idea about who may have caused Parker's death. Yet to me, it seems it was rather obviously orchestrated by the leader of their little organization."

"Maybe they don't know," Crystal hid her PADD from view as she consulted it, "Looks like the bodies were thrown into an earthen dam. I mean Schwerner's and the others. And then they weren't discovered for almost two months. Of course there was a strong national outcry."

"See," Carmen paused for a moment to allow some townspeople to pass, "this," she continued, but the volume of her voice was lowered quite a bit, "is a fatal flaw when it comes to what the Perfectionists do. The three men are spared; it's true, although for poor James Chaney, it's only for about three more months. But it's the national outcry which is lost. So thousands, if not millions, of people, they never become outraged in this particular manner. And some of those were people whose minds were changed, or who got off the fence due to this." She shook her head.

"All lost," Crystal lamented, "shh, here they come."

The three men stood out like a sore thumb, and walked right past them. Two were white – one of them had a goatee and appeared older – and the other one was of African extraction. "Good afternoon, ladies," said the guy with the goatee. He had a bit of a New York accent.

"Good afternoon," Carmen replied, her British accent betraying her origins.

"Begging your pardon," said the other white man, "but I think you're a long way from home."

"Excuse me?"

"England. What is that, four thousand miles away?" he asked.

"Something like that," Carmen replied. No sense in telling them she was born on the Earth's moon. "And it's a good millennium away, too, or so it seems."

"Andy, we should get some lunch. Uh, you should," said the youngest of the three, the fellow who was of African descent – James Chaney.

"Yeah, of course, ladies," said the fellow without the goatee – Andrew Goodman. He and Mickey Schwerner walked into a nearby bar.

"Why aren't you joining them?" Crystal asked.

"They won't serve me, Miss."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Crystal replied, feeling sick to her stomach.

Carmen didn't even wait to hear Chaney's answer and instead walked into the bar. Johnny Cash was on the jukebox.

You've got a way to keep me on your side

You give me cause for love that I can't hide

For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide

Because you're mine, I walk the line

"Whiskey," she said to the bartender.

"Another outsider," complained a local, "those varmints are everywhere these days."

=/\=

"So tell us about yourself, Branch," Sheilagh said.

"Many voices, many opinions, do not always work together."

"But you're it, right?" HD asked, "There are no others?"

"No others on this radiation band."

"Huh," Kevin said. He was piloting. He suddenly had an idea. "How big are you, Branch? I mean the individuals."

There was a pause. "The individual size is – your unit is the micrometer."

"The micrometer?" Sheilagh asked, "But that's about the size of an individual cell!"

"That's it!" Kevin exclaimed. HD and Sheilagh looked at him blankly, so he added, "We've been talking to the whole, but it's the damned cells that are sentient! Those are the individuals!"

"Branch," Sheilagh asked, "listen to me carefully. Do your individuals specialize in any way? Are any of them in control over the others?"

"No, and no. All are equal."

"How do you decide how to go anywhere, or do anything?" HD asked. "If everyone's got an equal opinion, you gotta be heading in about a billion directions most of the time, am I right?"

"Majority rules."

"Holy cow," Sheilagh said, "it's Biology by Democracy."

=/\=

Wa-wa, ("Yeah, yeah, little GTO") wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa

("Yeah, yeah, little GTO")

Wa-wa, ("Yeah, yeah, little GTO") wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa

("Yeah, yeah, little GTO")

Wa-wa ("Ahhh, little GTO") wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa

– Ronny & the Daytonas (Little GTO) 

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